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Ask HN: What do you think of my strategy to change my field of work?
9 points by _448 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments
I am a software engineer(had been desk junkie for too long), introvert and English is not my first language. But I have given few presentations in my career to somewhere around 5 to 50 people. And I am not that good at general communication and presentation.

I have lot of ideas that pop-up in my head. I want to do a startup with one of these ideas. I try to implement them and then realise that I lack three other very important skill-sets that a startup founder requires: marketing, sales and finance(at least in the initial stages of the startup). It is not important to just build things. One should be able to market it, sell it and manage the finances. Finance I will be able to manage, but marketing and sales requires going out(or even online) and talking to people, negotiating etc. These are the skills that I lack to some extent.

So here is what I was thinking. I should take an entry-level job at an organisation that requires talking to people on a regular basis. And recently I stumbled across an entry-level job that requires talking to people(from various companies, labs and R&D divisions) across the world and collecting information from them and then presenting it to internal and external stakeholders for business viability.

If I take this job, my whole career trajectory will change. Also, as this job is entry level the salary is very low(more than 50% pay cut).

I am thinking of going for it(I have not yet applied). But what do you think, does this strategy make sense?

I wouldn't do it.

- there are ways to expand your communication and presentation skills without moving back to entry-level or taking a huge pay cut

- there is no way to know if your current plan will actually help you develop the skills that you want

- having an entry-level job with low pay is a much more diffiuclt position to work on your startup from (compared to being a software engineer with some additional soft/business skills)

- you'll be taking on a job that you admit you currently aren't comfortable doing

- it's possible that you're using this career move as an excuse to not work on your own starup right now because you're telling yourself that you don't have the skills. (this is high-level procrastination)

I understand that the slight level of absurdity and the risk involved in your plan can actually look appealling to a certain type of personality (especially if you're bored right now) but overall this looks like you're driving your career into the ground with very little potential upside.

>>> there are ways to expand your communication and presentation skills without moving back to entry-level or taking a huge pay cut

Toastmasters is a great place to get more experience with communication and presentation skills. Find a local group and jump in at whatever pace you feel comfortable with.

Hi, dev here too working on my own side project, also an introvert, and English isn't my first language.

You got a point, sales is a transferrable skill after all.

But I think your sticking point is getting caught up in perfecting your pitch instead of actually getting infront of your target customers, trying to onboard them, letting it play out, and calibrating your product and onboarding process rightafter.

My gut tells me it's a bit of anxiety in a way that it's blurry on how you should onboard your first few customers (which is a nerve-racking thing tbh as it varies on whatever type of biz you're looking into).

Do you really need to take a 50% pay cut to figure it out? Maybe some reading could help, as a lot of founders have probably experienced this already..

- https://stripe.com/atlas/guides

- https://www.ycombinator.com/library

- https://www.kalzumeus.com/greatest-hits/

- https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

It might.

I think you should do whatever maximizes your chances to work with as many people as possible.

A 50% pay cut sounds big, so you should also look into whether having that extra money gives you more free time. Get involved with projects in your community. Get involved with Meetup groups. Go to hackathons and join teams. Get involved in open source projects. It doesn't really matter what the projects are (as long as you find them interesting and marginally worthwhile of course), what matters is you are getting practice working with a lot of different people and building your network of people you've worked with. In order to find 10 great people you love working with, you need to work with hundreds.

If you'd work with >5x as many people at the new job, then it's probably worth the pay cut.

It sounds like "talking to people" is the key point. How about just going out to social events and meeting people? There's also groups that focus on presentation skills as well if you wanted to improve on that aspect.

For me, as a software engineer, talking to people is actually a much needed skill. Part of that is because I work at a startup if that helps. Maybe you just need a work or culture shift but you can still do it with the same job.

I think you should pursue trade school. A plumber or an electrician talks to customers all day, has to understand people's needs and find effective solutions. There are huge shortages of skilled plumbers, electricians, and other tradesmen all around the world, so you will never lack for work. As a software engineer, you may appreciate a job that is both technical and honest.

> I think you should pursue trade school.

Ah, the advice that anyone who wants to work on their startup should hear.

First, let me tell you I had this exact idea, when I was thinking about improving social skills. After some time thinking, I would say it's not the way to go.

Let me tell you why. You probably would improve your communication skills, but I think there are other more effective and less risky ways to improve your social skills.

1. Maybe you would benefit from visiting therapist. After few sessions, you may understand yourself better and you'll be also talking therefore improving your communication skills. It's really interesting and effective way to know yourself.

2. As others mentioned - Toastmasters. You'll get used to giving speech in front of people which will significantly improve your overall social skills.

Many people waste time improving their weaknesses when they should be investing in their strengths. With enough effort you will be able to build your communication skills up to average... or you could invest where you are strong and become excellent.

Find a person that's amazing at sales and partner with them. You'll never be great at everything... do what only you can do and delegate the rest.

I love your willingness to make that leap. You sound like the perfect candidate for a technical sales position. Learning sales firsthand gives you a superpower the vast majority of your nerd friends will lack. It will help you enormously and will do so long after you get tired of learning the web stack of the week.

Good luck on your journey! Respect to you for your bravery.

I would look for a position as a lateral hire in MBB tech consulting e.g. McKinsey Digital or BCG Platinion.

Speaking from personal experience you'll learn a lot about communication and presentations.

MBB is typically hiring because you already have communication strengths. Half the interview is technical, the other half is about structured communication and synthesizing "so whats" for a CIO-level audience.

I'd actually question whether working on communication skills is the right move? If you find it intrinsically valuable (i.e., it's a personal growth goal to be less introverted and a better communicator) then please listen to the rest of this thread, but if it's about career opportunity it's typically a much better investment to highly-leverage your strengths and outsource/partner where you have gaps. We could talk all day about the number of tech companies that are pairings of the uber-geek tech genius and the slick salesperson translator -- it's fine to team-up with people who have skills that complement skills you lack, and you are typically able to accomplish much more together.

> I would look for a position as a lateral hire in MBB tech consulting e.g. McKinsey Digital or BCG Platinion.

The type of job I was looking at does the same thing as the MBB. But it is a small company. With smaller company there will be opportunity to learn more and grow faster. Also it might be relatively easy to get in as I do not have experience in consulting or as an analyst.

are you in the US? Toastmaster is great if you find the right group.

No, I am not. I am in the UK.

There are toastmasters in the UK too

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